Industry exclusion is “obtuse, wrong-headed & narrow-minded” – ABFI

Following the launch of a Cross Party Oireachtas Group on Alcohol Misuse at a meeting in Leinster House yesterday, the Alcohol Beverage Federation described as “obtuse, wrong-headed and narrow-minded” the continued refusal of members of an anti-drinks industry lobby to engage with the alcohol industry to enable a solution-based approach to alcohol misuse.

“The only way we can address the issue of alcohol misuse is by having a whole of society approach,” ABFI Director Kathryn D’Arcy re-iterated, “As alcohol manufactures and suppliers, we want to see our products consumed correctly and not misused.”

While welcoming the interest of the Deputies in attendance at the meeting on the issue of tackling alcohol misuse, she pointed out that there are 62,000 people employed in this sector.
“The vast majority of Irish people consume alcohol in a manner that is entirely compatible with a healthy lifestyle,” she continued, “In the last month we’ve written twice to the Department of Health – they have refused to engage with us.
“We’ve requested that industry could participate in a key Alcohol Conference being hosted by the Alcohol Forum – they declined to allow us to participate.
“And today we see the announcement of an informal, all-party group seeking to progress legislation and policy that can help reduce alcohol harm in Ireland with a particular emphasis on the Public Health Alcohol Bill – again with no suggestion of dialogue with the sector.
“We’re now in the implementation phase of the Alcohol Bill. Without getting the views and support from all relevant parties including the social organisations, publicans, off-licences and supplier companies, Government will not be able to credibly implement the proposals.
“Minister Reilly, Minister White and their officials must engage with the industry. We’ve a lot in common. We don’t want misuse of our product. We both have the same objective but come at it from different viewpoints.”
Policy decisions affect the future of those 62,000 people employed in the industry, she pointed out.

“Those who propose policies in a vacuum would do well to remember this,” she concluded, “Only by all parties coming together to address misuse can we hope to effect the necessary societal change that’ll ensure that abuse of this product is not acceptable.
“We must have greater alignment if this is going to happen. Excluding industry from the debate is wrong.”

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